Atheist, agnostic families opt for own sleep-away camp

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Joe Fox sends his daughters away to summer camp, he's confident they'll be surrounded by kids who share his family's beliefs and values.
Caitlin, 16, and Elizabeth, 10, go to Camp Quest, which in 1996 created a niche getaway for children who are agnostic, atheist, or just not sure what to believe yet.

American parents have plenty of summer camp options, from Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to the YMCA to soccer, dance, music and drama camps. Many claim no religious affiliation while others are Jewish, Catholic or evangelical Christian. The Camp Quest concept started in 1996 with 20 kids at a site in Ohio with the slogan "Beyond Belief."

Since then, demand has grown and week-long camps have been added in Minnesota, Michigan, California, Tennessee, and Ontario in Canada. In 2007 the camps accommodated 150 kids, generally ages 8-17. The projection for 2008 is more than 200 campers and new camps are also being considered in Vermont and Britain.

"They're good, moral kids without organized religion," Fox said of his daughters. "They can feel comfortable being who they are."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism

7 Comments
Posted May 28, 2008 at 9:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Dee in Iowa wrote:

No doubt they are good kids.  But this is kind of sad for me.  As sad as what I am about to tell.  I work part time and in conversation with my manager, who is not a Christian, got to talking about the Seer, Sylvia something or other, who is on a lot of talk shows and Larry King live.  She of course was trying to convince me that Sylvia really does “see the other side” and I of course tried to convince her that Sylvia has a routine and sees $ signs.  I dropped trying to convince her when she said;  “well, for me, Sylvia gives me hope that there is something more.”  Very sad, like the camps mentioned.

May 28, 10:00 am | [comment link]
2. Timothy Fountain wrote:

While I obviously disagree with the content of the camp and the indoctrination into falsehood, on the community/political level this a more reasonable and neighborly approach than suing Christian institutions and coercing them to accomodate un-Christian stuff.

May 28, 10:18 am | [comment link]
3. Br. Michael wrote:

As Dee points out few athiests and agnostics can fully embrace the implications of their worldview.  Dee’s manager is searching for something transcendent and something beyond the material world to give her hope.  She must do this in order to avoid the dispair of nihilism.  Yet, if she can entertain the possibility of a seer or New Age channeling she should be able to accept Christianity.

May 28, 11:24 am | [comment link]
4. Newbie Anglican wrote:

Methinks this camp has more to do with meeting the needs of parents who wish to raise their children completely free of evil Christian influence.

And, yes, I know of such parents . . . or knew—being Christian-free meant being free of me, too.

May 28, 1:09 pm | [comment link]
5. writingmom15143 wrote:

What breaks my heart about this situation is that I think the parents truly believe that they are loving their children by not caring to give them a spiritual direction.  But that’s the opposite of love…And the opposite of love is not hate.  The opposite of love is apathy…And the definition of apathy is indifference.  How can we love our kids if we choose to be indifferent to any areas of their lives?  Love just doesn’t work that way.

May 28, 8:18 pm | [comment link]
6. Dee in Iowa wrote:

I should have said more.  I stopped trying to convince her regarding Sylvia’s abilities.  I did witness to my Christian faith, and assured her “there was something more”, then I backed off and changed the subject.

May 29, 9:18 am | [comment link]
7. libraryjim wrote:

Gosh, it will be a quiet campfire—no kumbya!

May 29, 10:49 am | [comment link]
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